If you liked THE CARTEL, by Don Winslow…

  • Recommendations from Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

the cartelOne of the biggest books this year was Don Winslow’s The Cartel, a dark, violent, yet human look at the drug war and its effect on Mexico. For more crime fiction covering Mexico, past and present, I suggest these books.


9780615916545Federales by Chris Irvin

This novella about a former Mexican agent protecting a mayor who has taken on the cartels is the solemn and moving chamber piece to The Cartel‘s symphony. Both use the actual politician, Maria Gorriesta Santos, as a template for a major character. You can find copies of Federales on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


9781489561541Quick by Billy Kring

If The Cartel didn’t give you enough grim violence on the border this one will. The Quick has one of the scariest villains I’ve read in the past few years and I read a lot of books with scary dudes. You can find copies of Quick on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


9780805091298The Return by Michael Gruber

When a book editor gets a mysterious diagnosis, he fills a van full of guns, grabs his loose canon buddy from Vietnam, and heads south of the border to settle some scores. A rich prose style and engaging characters give us a look at life and death in Old Mexico. You can find copies of The Return on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

Crime Fiction Friday: JOLIE BLON by Billy Kring

crime sceneBilly Kring is known as an author with a feel for life on the Texas-Mexico line where he worked as a border agent. His debut, Quick, captured it in all it’s gritty glory. In this story published on Shotgun Honey, he goes to Cajun country.

“Jolie Blon” by Billy Kring

“Henri Arceneaux said, ‘Member what I teach you, you.’ He straddled the body in the bottom of the pirogue, making the small, green boat bob like a cork, ‘We want dem to stay down, so we gots to tickle dem diaphragm.’ He was seventy years old and shirtless, his chest and stomach marked with old scars from knife and bullet. He looked hard, like he was made of gristle and bone. He motioned at me with a finger, ‘Take off dat shirt, it’s too hot dis morning.'”

Click here to read the full story.

MysteryPeople Q&A with Billy Kring

Billy Kring is a former Texas Border Patrol Agent and consultant for law enforcement agencies around the world. He is also a friend and regular BookPeople customer, so we we’re excited to carry his debut, Quick, a novel about a brutal criminal that draws a Texas Border Agent, Hunter Kincaid, two Florida cops, John Quick and Randall Ishtee, together in taking him down. We talked to Billy about the the book and the personal background that informed it.

MYSTERYPEOPLE: How did the idea for Quick come about?

BILLY KRING: I wanted to write a story that would allow me to use my work experiences in South Florida, West Texas, and Mexico by weaving the tale through those environments.  Many people don’t realize there is a Border Patrol presence in Florida, so I thought that would be something new for readers to discover, too.  I also wanted to write a story that was hard to put down, and by forcing the story to keep moving from place to place, I felt I could keep the action and suspense high.

MP:  Hunter Kincaid works for the Border Patrol, like you used to. What did you want to convey about your former job?

BK: I hoped to make the reader feel like they were in an Agent’s footsteps, and experiencing how isolated many of the locations are; how much physical effort it often takes for Agents to perform their duties.  There are places where there is no help within miles if trouble occurs, and these places have dead areas where no communication is possible, so you’re pretty much on your own if it comes down to it.  Working alone, forty miles from the next closest Agent, and on a trail of smugglers…it’s not dull, let me put it that way.

MP: One of the things I liked about Quick was that there was little of that cliche friction between Hunter and the Florida cops. In your experience, do most law enforcement agencies want to work together?

BK: Agencies get along, that’s been my experience.  There are exceptions, but on the whole, most law enforcement people I’ve dealt with, especially at the street level, know the old adage of strength in numbers.  The other plus of working together is that an expanded range of enforcement laws comes into play.  Combining state laws with federal laws makes a much wider net to arrest a criminal.  Most multi-agency task forces are put together with this in mind, and they work very well.  It also builds a communications network for law enforcement at the street level that bypasses a lot of formal red tape and power plays from higher up the chain.  It doesn’t have to always be “through official channels” to get things done.  And the network seems to hold up for years and many friendships develop that way.

MP: The book is quite brutal in places. What made you decide to go that far?

BK: They came from crime scenes I witnessed while working as a consultant in Mexico.  I had seen dead people and murder scenes while in the line of duty, and I thought I was hardened, but these particular ones rocked me.  I felt it was necessary in Quick to show how even a hardened law enforcement officer like John Quick could be shaken to the core, and how that could affect his actions and mental state afterward.

MP: Conan is a particularly scary villain. Is he drawn from anyone you encountered in your work?

BK: Not that I personally encountered.  Cop stories of legendary bad guys make the rounds through all agencies, and Conan is partially based on a few of those, plus my imagination.  And bad dreams or some bad moonshine, I’m not sure which.

MP: This being your first book, did you draw from any influences?

BK: You bet.  All the authors you’ve recommended to me when I come into BookPeople! That is a true fact.  Also script writers like John Milius and Sam Peckinpah.  A few of the authors are: Don Winslow, Elmore Leonard, Craig Johnson, Thomas Harris, James Carlos Blake, Megan Abbott, Peter Farris, Frank Bill, James Lee Burke, Jonathan Woods, Benjamin Whitmire, Robert Crais, and a ton of others.

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Quick is available on our shelves now and online via bookpeople.com.